HA NOI — The Viet Nam Writers' Association will launch a translation centre next month to help promote Vietnamese literature abroad, according to the association's chairman Huu Thinh.
|Reaching out: Dang Thuy Tram's bestselling wartime diary was recently translated into Russian. — File Photo
The centre will gather English, French, Chinese, Russian, German, Japanese and Korean translators to introduce Vietnamese literature to the world.
"Despite much investment by the State in the development of literature and arts, these funds have mainly focused on new works, children's literature and literary criticism," said Thinh. "We don't have financial sources for translating literature."
Speaking at a seminar held last Friday in Ha Noi, the chairman also stressed that Vietnamese culture would be isolated if not enough attention is paid to translating literary works.
"The association will propose a policy to develop translated literature to State leaders," he said in his speech at the conclusion of the seminar.
The seminar was held by the association to review work on translating literature over the past decade. Participants at the seminar were known writers and translators who also discussed the role of literature translators, principles and requirement to literature translation and creativity in translations.
According to a book entitled Vietnamese Literature Translators published in 2002 by the association's Translation Council in co-operation with the East-West Culture Centre, Viet Nam has about 300 prominent translators who took part in translations from the 14th century until the late 20th century.
During the past years, translated literature, including foreign literature translated into Vietnamese, has made a contribution to culture exchange and international integration.
The best translated works have been recognised by awards from the association, with winners including Goethe's Faust by translator Quang Chien (2002); Canadian Yann Martel's The Life of Pi by Trinh Lu (2005); American Mattie Stepanek's Heartsong by Huu Viet (2007); Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red by Pham Viem Phuong and Huynh Kim Anh (2008) and South Korean Ko Un's Tomorrow Song by Le Dang Hoan (2011).
"In 2005, 2007-08 and 2010 the association awarded prizes in two categories only, including one for translated works," said Nguyen Van Dan, chairman of the association's Translation Council.
Literary translations, including the translation of world classic and modern literature, had helped Vietnamese readers understand more about other cultures, said Dan. However, the quality of some translations of literary work into Vietnamese has raised concerns.
"There have been many discussions on the quality of translated works, and the principles of translation," he said.
Translators had not been trained professionally at colleges, he said. A curriculum for training translators had not been developed. Set up earlier this year, the fund for Vietnamese and Russian literature still lacks of translators. Veteran translators were now older than 70 years while experienced translators were too busy and in short supply, said translator Le Duc Man.
"Young translators do not have much experiences in literature translation," said Man.
Translator Pham Van Ba said that training a team of translators was necessary for some projects.
"Co-operation with foreign cultural centres in Viet Nam such as the Russian Cultural Centre, L'Espace, Goethe Institute and British Council is a way to seek scholarships for translators to improve not only their foreign language skills but also their general knowledge."
As the association's member, Ba called on the Government to devote more funds to promoting translated literature in Viet Nam.
Supporting Ba's proposal, a representative from the website dichthuat.com announced that the website was raising a fund to award prizes for the best translations. — VNS